Two members of a beloved Austin-area family were among the more than 80 killed late Thursday, when a truck laden with guns and grenades plowed through a crowd of revelers in the French city of Nice who had gathered to watch fireworks and celebrate Bastille Day.
Sean Copeland, 51, was in France with his wife, Kim, and their children, Maegan, Austin and Brodie, 11. The family was enjoying a European dream vacation that started with the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, and flamenco dancing in Barcelona, family friend Jess Davis told media.
“They had been celebrating Bastille Day in Nice when this unthinkable and unfair act of terror took Sean and Brodie from the world far too soon,” Davis told The Dallas Morning News. “It is a terrible loss.”
“We are heartbroken and in shock over the loss of Brodie Copeland, an amazing son and brother who lit up our lives, and Sean Copeland, a wonderful husband and father,” the family told the newspaper in a statement. “They are so loved.”
Sean Copeland’s brothers are planning to pick up the rest of the family from Nice this weekend, KXAN reported. It is unclear if the other family members were near the site of the attacks Thursday night.
Family friend Jason Dixon told local station KXAN that Brodie had just completed fifth grade and was a gifted athlete. He still doesn’t quite believe the two are gone.
“It was a devastating feel, it took me a while to sink in. I called some people to confirm to make sure what I had read had actually happened,” said Dixon. “Every time we were around, [Brodie’s] attitude and personality were infectious and it rolled off on me as an adult and obviously the kids, but he was a natural at youth sports.”
Both young Brodie and his father were avid baseball fans.
On Thursday evening, Brodie’s team, the Hill Country Baseball Club, shared a photo of him taken in France just hours earlier.
“Nobody deserves this type of fate, especially not such a wonderful family,” the caption read. “You are in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers. Rest in peace, Brodie and Sean, you will be remembered by many.”
Family and friends shared condolences amid hundreds of comments on the photo, many of them noting how much Sean and Brodie contributed to their community and how deeply their absence will be felt.
“No words can describe how we feel,” wrote Jeff Petry. “Sean and Brodie touched our lives in so many ways. Such a good man and a great kid and teammate.”
“I’m in complete shock! Some of the best people I’ve had the privilege to know,” added Victor Flores. “You will definitely be missed Sean and Brodie. Kim, i do not have the words nor know what you are going through. I’m truly sorry for your loss.”
Sean Copeland worked as a vice president in a software division at Lexmark, a technology company. In a statement, Lexmark spokesman Jerry Grasso said he “was not only a terrific leader in the company but a phenomenal person who will be dearly missed.”
Sean’s niece, Haley Copeland, said the loss of her family members has been unbearable:
This is an extremely difficult time for my family and anyone who knows Sean and Brodie Copeland. Losing a loved one is hard no matter the circumstances but losing a loved one in such a tragic and unexpected way is unbearable. Prayers are much appreciated.
Amid countless condolences and offers of prayer, another relative, Heather Copeland, offered a more succinct take: “I just want my cousin and uncle back.”